Pluralistic ignorance: Conceptual framework, antecedents and consequences

Alcindo Mendes, Ernesto Lopez-Valeiras, Rogerio Joao Lunkes


Purpose: The aim of this paper is to present, in an integrated manner, the knowledge acquired about pluralistic ignorance in the fields of social psychology, sociology and business. Particularly, to identify the factors that work as antecedents of pluralistic ignorance, as well as its consequences, in various research contexts.

Design/methodology/approach: This integrative study on pluralistic ignorance was conducted with the Proknow-C method, which allows the construction of knowledge through a structured process of search and identification of a bibliographic portfolio.

Findings: The major results include the literature review and the identification of research networks such as Allport, O'Gorman, Shamir and Miller in the field social psychology and Harvey, Buckley and Halbesleben in organizations. A systemic analysis showed how pluralistic ignorance is formed, and clarified the difference between perceptual and inferential ignorance. The systemic analysis resulted in a model with seven social comparison errors that can be seen as antecedents of ignorance and a framework with its consequences, divided into three categories: people's attitude, people's behavior and organizational capabilities.

Research limitations/implications: As with every research review, identification and review of the literature depend on the authors' world view. One of the difficulties in researching pluralistic ignorance is that it is studied in different areas of knowledge and from different perspectives.

Originality/value: The knowledge acquired throughout more than eight decades of research on pluralistic ignorance is fragmented into different perspectives. However, what was shown by the systemic analysis of the literature is that studies are more often geared toward psychosocial issues and it is still not very well known how the causes and consequences of pluralistic ignorance interact with the management processes in the organizational environment. This review presents a model for guiding the process of formation of pluralistic ignorance and a guiding framework for future research, as far as its consequences are concerned.


pluralistic ignorance, attitude, behavior, organizational capabilities, social comparison errors

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Intangible Capital, 2004-2022

Online ISSN: 1697-9818; Print ISSN: 2014-3214; DL: B-33375-2004

Publisher: OmniaScience